Vol.XII No.V Pg.3
July 1975

Business Meeting Blues

Dan S. Shipley

In the absence or elders, church business meetings can literally get to be something else! — and all to often they do. They can get to be occasions for mostly social visiting and discussing personal business. Or, they can get to be little more than gossip sessions for the broadcasting of surmisings and hear-say that would be better left unsaid. Others start well but deteriorate into gripe sessions for airing petty grievances and complaining about all that is wrong with the local church and its members. And, sad to say, the business meeting is sometime transformed into an arena in which feuding brethren bite and devour one another. Who can deny the casualties of such gatherings? The Lords work is made to suffer, weak brethren become disillusioned, others become embittered, frustrated, depressed and heartbreakingly discouraged. No doubt the seeds of much division have been sown in such meetings. Little wonder so many brethren get the business meeting blues.

But I wonder if the business meeting itself is the real culprit? Its Intended purpose is not only good, it is needful. The business of the church must be cared for and it certainly deserves the most careful consideration, planning and decisions. Those who forget the serious purpose of such meetings are asking for problems. In fact, we may unwittingly be inviting most of the problems that plauge our business meetings.

For instance, we invite problems when we conduct meetings without a planned agenda. I know of some churches that will not discuss any item of business that has not been submitted in writing at least a week prior to the meeting. An agenda keeps the meeting on track. Knowing what will be considered gives time for deliberation and avoids hasty decisions from off the top of the head that may be later regretted. Following an agenda also avoids these surprise bomb-shells known to have been dropped in some such meetings (Like, I think we ought to fire the preacher.).

Other problems could be avoided by the presiding chairman selected to lead the meeting. It is up to him to maintain order (1 Cor. 14:40) with dignity. Asking every man present to state his views on every subject is asking for trouble. Such opinions are not essential to decisions and often promote misunderstandings and disagreements. Free discussion must be allowed, to be sure, but none should be compelled to comment on everything. (nor, should feel the necessity of doing so).

Anything worthy of discussion in such a meeting is something that deserves hearing and consideration. If Im agin it it should be for good reason and not from bad attitude or prejudice. Comments or objections of others merit the same attention as mine. Hopefully, however, the younger Christians will give deference to the experience and maturity of their older brethren. Finally, the plans and decisions from such meetings should be made known to the whole church as they too have an interest in these matters. Doing these things for a starter may help to change the blues to blessings.